Four and a half billion years from the birth of the Earth, scientists have discovered what they believe is a chunk of the same material that formed the planet.
The interesting discovery was learned when scientists spotted a tailless comet flying past the inner solar system in 2014. The comet, which was believed to have originated in the Oort cloud, was spotted by a Hawaiian telescope, Pan-STARRS1. The spotted object was then called the PANSTARRS.
European Southern Observatory astronomer Olivier Hainaut told Gizmodo that, upon examining the images spotted by Pan-STARRS1, they immediately thought that it was something special. He said then that it could be the same material that formed Earth some 4.5 billion years ago.
“If you’d shown me the spectrum, I would have just said this is another stupid asteroid. If you showed me the orbit, I’d say yea, it’s a standard long-period comet. But you don’t at all expect to find a rocky asteroid on an Oort cloud orbit. That’s wrong,” Hainaut was quoted as saying.
A closer look at the object’s spectrum, Hainaut explained, would show that the object hasn’t been subjected to the Sun’s extreme temperature, which could indicate that it is originally from the inner solar system before the object was flung into the Oort cloud.
Meanwhile, Astronomer Karen Meech of the University of Hawaii told Discovery News that the spotted object was the first of its kind ever observed in the inner circle from the Oort cloud. Scientists believe that the spotted object, which appeared to have been deeply frozen, were the building blocks of the Earth as well as other planets such as Venus, Mars, and Mercury.